A Farewell to Arms: a Love Story

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Bhaskar Lokanathan
American Literature
Ryan Martin
A Farewell to Arms: a love story
A Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway is a novel that tells the story of strong, yet strange relationship between Frederick Henry and Catherine Barkley. Both are medical workers in the Italian military during World War I who fall in love soon after their first meeting. In the beginning, the love between the two seems fake and almost a game. Throughout the novel, Henry begins to develop a more serious love for Catherine, but this relationship is not a true connection between two lovers. Instead, the relationship is an escape from the war that helps the two get over their pasts. For Barkley, this escape helps her to get past her previous relationship and for Henry, it teaches him how to love and gives him purpose in life.

In the beginning of the novel, Henry seems to have no purpose in life. He is an American who came over to Italy to fight in a war just for the adventure. He extensively describes beautiful European landscapes that have been destroyed by the war. He is not fighting for any real purpose besides having nothing better to do. Furthermore, he spends most of his time drinking and going to brothels with his friend Rinaldi. This gives readers the impression that Henry is a lonely, almost depressed man with no true purpose in life.

When Rinaldi first introduces Catherine Barkley to Henry, Henry finds her extremely beautiful. They quickly become friends and by their second meeting, they are talking about spending their life together. Henry is confused by this because of how quickly everything unfolded, but decides to play her game. He assumes that they are just friends but Catherine seems to think that there is more between them. Catherine’s abruptness is most likely caused by the result of her previous relationship; her ex-fiancé was killed in the war in front of Catherine. She is still scarred from this and is using Henry as a way to cope with her loss....
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